Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Bernke Klein Zandvoort

WALLA WALLA

in an American radio studio, they discovered that, when the words walla walla
are repeated by a handful of people, it sounds like the murmuring of a crowd,
as if you’ve come into a full room
sometimes, I can follow my thoughts better in the midst of a group
I've read that thinking is actually your family; their voices
kept saying the sentences to you for so long
that you started saying them back out loud and someone pointed to your forehead
explaining that you could also say them by keeping your lips together
and imagining the words beneath the vaulted ceiling of your head
that's how the sentences settled in us
how with tree tree tree a wood appears
butter butter makes something slide Bernke Bernke
makes the contours of my body glow
and I hear a mama mama
that isn't but could well be
Walla Walla Indians duplicate the word to add tenderness
in the Netherlands, I saw a man calling caw caw at a bird
to keep it away from him, while the first colonists befuddled themselves
with walla walla so they could confuse discovery with a possession
still resounding across the prairies - Walla Walla!
the town so nice they named it twice

walla walla is the birds, dotted about in the trees, each making its own noise
but sounding like a stream, walla walla is a wave, is the sound of waves
that lulls something in people
walla walla is the nodding off to the night programme
of the washing machine or to radio voices
until they fall out of your ears
but, for me, most of all, walla walla is
that which is able to relax
when I find my body under the auditorium lights
in a city
on a chair
in a now
in a head
and I can use the surrounding conversations as a gold pan
with which, from all the mud, I can sieve out one clear thought

WALLA WALLA

WALLA WALLA

in een Amerikaanse radiostudio ontdekten ze dat als de woorden walla walla
door een handvol mensen worden herhaald, het rumoer klinkt van een menigte
alsof je plaatsgenomen hebt in een volle zaal
soms kan ik midden in een groep mensen mijn gedachten beter volgen
ik las dat denken eigenlijk je familie is, hun stemmen
hebben net zo lang de zinnen aan je voorgedaan
tot je ze hardop begon na te praten en er iemand naar je voorhoofd wees
dat je ze óók kon zeggen door je lippen op elkaar te houden
en de woorden voor te stellen onder het gehemelte van je hoofd
dat is hoe de zinnen bij ons zijn komen wonen
hoe er met boom boom boom een bos ontstaat
boter boter iets laat glijden Bernke Bernke
de randen van mijn lichaam gloeien
en ik een mama mama hoor
wat niet is maar wel kan bestaan
Walla Walla-indianen herhalen hetzelfde woord om het met tederheid te beladen
in Nederland zag ik een man kra kra naar een vogel roepen
om ‘m van zich weg te houden, terwijl de eerste kolonisten zichzelf
met walla walla bedwelmden om ontdekken met bezitten te kunnen verwarren
zo klinkt het op de prairies nu nog na – Walla Walla!
the town so nice they named it twice

walla walla zijn de vogels die verspreid over bomen elk hun eigen geluid maken
maar klinken als een stroom, walla walla is een golf, is het geluid van golven
dat iets in mensen laat verslappen
walla walla is het inslapen van het nachtprogramma
van de wasmachine of met radiostemmen
tot ze uit je oren vallen
maar voor mij is walla walla nog het meest
dát wat er ontspannen kan
als ik in het zaallicht mijn lijf terugvind
in een stad
op een stoel
in een nu
in een hoofd
en ik de omringende gesprekken daarbij als goudpan gebruik
waarmee ik uit alle modder één heldere gedachten zeven kan
Close

WALLA WALLA

in an American radio studio, they discovered that, when the words walla walla
are repeated by a handful of people, it sounds like the murmuring of a crowd,
as if you’ve come into a full room
sometimes, I can follow my thoughts better in the midst of a group
I've read that thinking is actually your family; their voices
kept saying the sentences to you for so long
that you started saying them back out loud and someone pointed to your forehead
explaining that you could also say them by keeping your lips together
and imagining the words beneath the vaulted ceiling of your head
that's how the sentences settled in us
how with tree tree tree a wood appears
butter butter makes something slide Bernke Bernke
makes the contours of my body glow
and I hear a mama mama
that isn't but could well be
Walla Walla Indians duplicate the word to add tenderness
in the Netherlands, I saw a man calling caw caw at a bird
to keep it away from him, while the first colonists befuddled themselves
with walla walla so they could confuse discovery with a possession
still resounding across the prairies - Walla Walla!
the town so nice they named it twice

walla walla is the birds, dotted about in the trees, each making its own noise
but sounding like a stream, walla walla is a wave, is the sound of waves
that lulls something in people
walla walla is the nodding off to the night programme
of the washing machine or to radio voices
until they fall out of your ears
but, for me, most of all, walla walla is
that which is able to relax
when I find my body under the auditorium lights
in a city
on a chair
in a now
in a head
and I can use the surrounding conversations as a gold pan
with which, from all the mud, I can sieve out one clear thought

WALLA WALLA

in an American radio studio, they discovered that, when the words walla walla
are repeated by a handful of people, it sounds like the murmuring of a crowd,
as if you’ve come into a full room
sometimes, I can follow my thoughts better in the midst of a group
I've read that thinking is actually your family; their voices
kept saying the sentences to you for so long
that you started saying them back out loud and someone pointed to your forehead
explaining that you could also say them by keeping your lips together
and imagining the words beneath the vaulted ceiling of your head
that's how the sentences settled in us
how with tree tree tree a wood appears
butter butter makes something slide Bernke Bernke
makes the contours of my body glow
and I hear a mama mama
that isn't but could well be
Walla Walla Indians duplicate the word to add tenderness
in the Netherlands, I saw a man calling caw caw at a bird
to keep it away from him, while the first colonists befuddled themselves
with walla walla so they could confuse discovery with a possession
still resounding across the prairies - Walla Walla!
the town so nice they named it twice

walla walla is the birds, dotted about in the trees, each making its own noise
but sounding like a stream, walla walla is a wave, is the sound of waves
that lulls something in people
walla walla is the nodding off to the night programme
of the washing machine or to radio voices
until they fall out of your ears
but, for me, most of all, walla walla is
that which is able to relax
when I find my body under the auditorium lights
in a city
on a chair
in a now
in a head
and I can use the surrounding conversations as a gold pan
with which, from all the mud, I can sieve out one clear thought

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
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